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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

'Great John' my @ss!

I know I'm gonna get flamed (not to mention go straight to hell) for this post, but I just couldn't hold myself back. 

Chalk it up to the unusual living conditions here at Chez Treppenwitz.  I'm over-tired and my defenses are down.  Let me start by saying that if someone reading along has a serious glandular/metabolic condition that makes this post seem insensitive or hurtful, I sincerely apologize in advance.  This obviously isn't directed at you.  It is directed at the people who've made a lifetime of bad eating decisions... and then compounded them by making silly accessory choices to try to minimize the damage.

It was only a matter of time... I mean, how did I not seen this coming?

Super-sized people have been shoveling super-sized meals into their collective maw for so long now that it has given rise to an entire set of sub-industries;  super-sized clothing... super-sized furniture... and now even super-sized cars. 

I'm not trying to be indelicate or mean to any of my readers who (like me) are 'gravitationally gifted'.   But when your entire business wardrobe comes from Big & Tall (psh'yeah, no denial in that name!) and your leisure-wear consists exclusively of velour track suits and mu-mus, it seems the only thing left to do is just give in and super-size the rest of your life.

Enter a company called Great John [pause while I clean coffee off the computer screen after reading that name!] which has super-sized the end-game of gluttonous consumption; the toilet. 

The folks at Great John have designed ("from the floor up!") a throne fit for the likes of Idi Amin... and are trying to explain away its raison d'être as the standard toilet's poorly-designed "small seat".  [emphasis mine]

Uh huh... the design flaw is in the standard toilet, not in the butt that has to interface with this essential piece of plumbing.  Let me put it this way; I own a pair of Levi 501s with a 32" waist that I haven't been able to wear since college.  The problem is not with the jeans.   I wear larger sizes now because of me... not because I discovered some essential design flaw in the old clothes I used to buy!  'Nuff said.

I know I must sound horribly mean pontificating from my low 200s (pounds, not kilos!), but when the Great John website says stuff like:

"A regular toilet... creates very uncomfortable pressure points, consequently producing numbness in the legs and thighs from lack of proper blood flow"

... it makes me wonder if maybe there isn't some unmentioned other problem at work here besides the toilet... like the inexorable forces of gravity exerted on the ginormous person perched daintily on the seat!

Look, everyone occasionally gets numb legs from spending a little too long on the crapper.  I don't know one person who hasn't gotten engrossed in a little bathroom reading and ended up doing the stiff-legged 'monster walk' afterward until feeling returned to their lower extremities.  But that's simply nature's way of gently reminding us to spend less time in there... not turn it into a porcelain Barcalounger!

Of course, there was one memorable Purim seuda (festive meal) Zahava and I attended at a close friend's house where I would have been deeply appreciative of a comfy toilet such as the ones advertised at Great John:

Strictly speaking, I had imbibed a little beyond the required amount that Purim... and what with all that good food I'd packed away at the meal I excused myself from the table in order to go 'sit a spell' in the smallest room in our host's beautiful home. 

The selection of reading material was rather sparse (mostly old Jewish Press') and I was a little drowsy... so within seconds I, er, drifted off.

Zahava must have missed me after 15 or 20 minutes (or so she later told me) because she sent someone to make sure I was OK.  I eventually answered the urgent banging on the bathroom door with much embarrassed throat clearing and promises to 'be right out', but the horrible truth was that my legs were so numb that I couldn't even stand up.  I was essentially paralyzed from the waist down!

After several minutes of really heroic effort I was able to put myself back together and exit the bathroom... but I would have dearly loved to have waited until even a little tingling sensation returned to my nether-regions before attempting any ambulatory movement.  Unfortunately, I had no idea at that point how long I'd been M.I.A. from the table and didn't want to be any more rude to our hosts than I'd already been.

As I did my stiff-legged stagger into the dining room... nonchalantly using the wall and nearby chairs for support... everyone at the crowded table politely ignored my dilemma. 

But one person - one of my closest friends in the world - just couldn't look the other way.  Instead he quickly picked up a shot glass... made a fist... and pressed the rim of the shot glass deep into the fleshy spot where thumb and index finger converge.  After a few moments he removed the shot glass and held up his fist (now bearing a deep red semi-circular indentation) for the assembled guests to see and gleefully exclaimed, "Hey Dave... does this look familiar?!"

The place just fell apart. 

All pretense of decorum went out the window, and long after the shrieks of laughter had died down, people were still dabbing at teary eyes and emitting little residual giggles and sighs.

OK, so yeah... I'll admit that under very narrow and specific circumstances I can see how one of these super-sized commodes might actually come in handy.  But please don't make it seem like the reason you designed the thing with "150% more contact surface area than a standard elongated seat" is because of idiots like me or because there is something flawed in the basic design of a standard toilet.  We all know the score here.

Oh, and the blurb towards the bottom of the web page where they casually mention that the "toilets are tested to 2000 lb... and to eliminate the problem of the SEAT SLIDING, we provide "Anti-Slide" fins for safety" sort of gives the game away.    Let's face it, if you're subjecting your commode to those kinds of G's, and you routinely find yourself in need of structural appendages to keep your, um, seat centered on the can, you don't need a new toilet... you need an intervention.

I am soooo back on my diet! 


Posted by David Bogner on March 21, 2006 | Permalink


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Well, I consider myself a bit of an expert on toilets, not by choice but by necessity.

There are a lot of factors that go into a good toilet, such as power flushing. You know that is one of the most important and least considered aspects of a toilet.

I'd go so far as to say that the flush is like the offensive line of the toilet.

Think about it, we have all had experiences in which the flush was just not, adequate.

Power flushing avoids that complication.

So as not to create a post out of a comment allow me to add one more thing. A taller toilet is more comfortable for people who have knee or back problems. It is just easier to get up and off of, unless you fall asleep on it in which case you are SOL.

Posted by: Jack | Mar 21, 2006 9:31:11 AM

I noticed you left your "current" tag off of this post! Intentional or just a slip? :)

Posted by: Safranit | Mar 21, 2006 10:35:56 AM

Jack... People began obsessing about the 'power flush' shortly after the arrival of the water saving toilet on the scene. Here in Israel we have the two-handled version (a post for later in the week) and it is very tempting to cheat on which handle one pushes.

Safranit... Freudian slip. thanks, it's up now. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 21, 2006 11:18:10 AM

Oooh not just up but UP ;)

(Says the woman who keeps getting asked if she is Pregnant, when she has just gone up 2 kilos)

Posted by: Safranit | Mar 21, 2006 11:51:08 AM

I can't wait to buy some for our new house - come on over anytime for a nap! And hey, for Gilly it also doubles as a race car track for matchbox cars.

In all fairness, elsewhere on the site they do state that "For years the wants and needs of the large-size community was not addressed."

I highly recommend browsing their site it is very entertaining. Thanks for one of your funniest posts!

Posted by: Yonah | Mar 21, 2006 1:59:39 PM

I've been tall all my life and in recent years have become wide. I weigh far too much yet the "Great John" would not be right for me.

They do make extra large toilets, and you've seen them. They are long. That is, there's more room in front. And that's where I need it. When the distance between my two holes is greater than the distance from the front to the back of the bowl something's got to give. I'm tired of cleaning the floor where ever I go.

A big toilet needs a bigger hole, a bigger bowl. With the Big John I'd drop onto the dry part in back and then have to wipe out the toilet by hand each time. Not the best. Far better to drop into water.

Posted by: Warren | Mar 21, 2006 2:16:16 PM

Yonah... Yes, it is quite obvious who the target audience is for this product... and 'm sure that from a marketing standpoint it makes no sense to call one's core consumer a fat slob to his/her face. But that bit about the poor design of the standard toilet just set me to giggling. :-)

Warren... Whoa there cowboy! This is a family blog... people eating breakfast and lunch while doing a little web surfing!!! I catch your drift, but that was waaaaay too much information for a first date, mmkay? :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 21, 2006 2:23:44 PM

Bwah hah hah hah hahhhhh!

Posted by: Elisson | Mar 21, 2006 2:54:12 PM

perfect timing David. Just the kick start I needed for my spring slim down.
And don't let go of those 32's - you'll get into them again someday. :o)

Posted by: lisa | Mar 21, 2006 3:07:55 PM

Ok... What is it with you guys lately?

First Jack, then PsychoToddler and now you, David.

I think you guys are getting a little too comfortable.

Posted by: jaime | Mar 21, 2006 3:51:55 PM

Aha heeheehee. Ahem. Excellent!

I had a patient who finally realized he had a very serious weight problem when he could no longer reach far enough back to wipe. Does "Great John" have a solution for that?

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Mar 21, 2006 4:23:42 PM

I usually read your blog while eating my breakfast. I think I will change that pattern after today!! ;-)

Posted by: ezer knegdo | Mar 21, 2006 4:26:18 PM

This post needs more fiber.

Posted by: Jack | Mar 21, 2006 5:58:52 PM

Great post for an obviously great product for an unmet need. I do see a problem in their webpage with the "bathroom suites". If you look at Suite 2, I don't know how a supersized person could get in there to actually use the GJ. Looks like a tight squeeze between the cabinets. Suite 1 worries me as well...

I wonder if they also make a Great Bidet, which could help solve the problem that Doctor Bean raises...

Posted by: wanderer | Mar 21, 2006 6:09:26 PM

Jack brought up the issue of the 'power flush' and David, you commented on the 'genius' of Israeli toilets.

Well, I have to argue with you here. On our recent house-building trip to Israel, DH and I did tons of research on this topic.

Israeli toilets are NOT well designed. They utilize too little water, so that you wind up flushing 3 times more than you would with a toilet elsewhere. The toilets in Israel are designed to conserve water, which is wonderful, but they are not designed to give you a powerful flush, which is sometimes exactly what you need to do a good job of flushing...

However, the prize for the stupidest toilets do not go to the Israelis...it goes to...the Polish toilets.

Polish toilets are designed where the refuse falls into a bowl with NO WATER. the water is stored in a seperate 'container' and when you flush, the water is supposed to wash away the refuse - but it doesn't do a good job.

Compare this to an american toilet, where you have a large amount of water in the bowl, so that when you do your business, less 'refuse' is likely to stick to the bowl itself, and it will get washed away with the flush.

Okay, enough bathroom-talk.
(call me Potty-mouth)

Posted by: Chavi | Mar 21, 2006 6:39:33 PM

Ummm.... somehow I have troubling believing their message that unsupersized people can use that toilet safely. It just doesn't make any sense. If the toilet is indeed so much bigger, and you happen to be a smallish guest, and you fall asleep - what's to prevent you from falling in?!

Posted by: Irina | Mar 21, 2006 7:36:37 PM

David, Irina: you mean falling asleep on the john is a regular thing? Geez, why didn't I know you guys back in the day? You could've saved me about 20 years of embarrassment. Back when I was oh, five, or so, I passed out on "the throne" at my babysitter's house. In order to make sure that her son would never have a political career, my mother snapped a photo of this event which has ever since had a prominent place in my childhood photo album. Man, if I'd known that this was a common thing, I mighta been a contender...

Posted by: efrex | Mar 21, 2006 8:20:30 PM

Wow - I'm a relatively skinny guy myself, but this is kinda mean. Hate to say it. Maybe the big dudes know they have a problem but until the gastric bypass they're still big, so they need something now...

Wait, was that mean, too?

In any case, you redeem yourself with that completely humiliating and hilarious story.

The craziest commodes I've seen were in Japan. They're all electronic and stuff. Lights a flashing, sounds a beeping. Heated seats (now that'll put you to sleep). We had to call a bellboy up to show us how to flush.

The whole enterprise poses a shabbat problem, of course. Luckily we stayed on the tatami mats of the Chabad house (one of the two - they don't talk to each other). Their toilet was completely analog but did have the added feature of a spigot on top, so you could wash your hands in the water as it filled up the bowl (a lot less gross that it sounds from my description).

Posted by: ralphie | Mar 21, 2006 11:39:54 PM

I think my entire family would fit in the toilet bowl together!

Posted by: Shevy | Mar 22, 2006 1:52:14 AM

No, I won't flame you because I'm too busy rolling around on the floor howling with laughter!

Posted by: aliyah06 | Mar 22, 2006 2:23:21 AM

Does this posting come with the implied "Or I could be full of ...?"

Hey! If you're gonna pitch 'em underhand, I'm a'gonna swing!

Posted by: Drew | Mar 22, 2006 2:53:57 AM

Wow, thanks for that much needed laugh! I was losing it at Warren's comments, but your reply Trep, was PERFECT!

Just a thought though........ are there PADDED seats in Israel? Should I/ Could I bring my own? :) I love my padded seat, only $14.99 from Home Depot! I doubt it would be compatible with the israeli bowls though. hmmmm....

Posted by: EmahS | Mar 22, 2006 4:24:06 AM


You need to ask the Home Depot rep if it comes in 220 or just 110.

Posted by: JoeSettler | Mar 22, 2006 7:03:52 AM

They call it appropriate technology, I prefer the old school squat system that leaves one even more athletic and there's no room for sleep... just tension incase one falls backwards. :)

Posted by: kakarizz | Mar 22, 2006 7:04:44 AM

I think the toilets in Israel are far superior to the ones in the US. Here, upon flushing, everything is emptied from the bowl with a strong WHOOSH- without even using that much water.

All I remember about American toilets is that there's a lot of water in the bowl, which, after flushing, lifts the "contents" and swirls them about before emptying. My family's toilets still do that- maybe newer models are better?

Posted by: lori | Mar 22, 2006 11:43:26 AM

Elisson... I figured you'd enjoy this one... it's your kind of subject matter. ;-)

Lisa... Don't thank me... I'm a giver. :-)

Jaime... If memory serves, the last bathroom post I wrote was back in May of 2005. That's not a bad ratio for bathroom humor.

Doctor Bean... I was going to suggest a bidet but I see someone beat me to it.

Ezer Knegdo... This is an aberration, I promise. :-)

Jack... Lovely.

Wanderer... Do you get the sense from the pictures that an attempt is being made to 'normalize' obesity? Serious question.

Chavi... I have a whole post written (and sidelined as too tasteless) on this topic that I may have to revisit. Thanks.

Irina... You didn't notice the little holder on the side where the life ring goes? :-)

Efrex...Don't you mean 'contendah'? :-)

Ralphie... Every so often I need to tarnish my halo a bit so people take me seriously. :-)

Shevy... Let's hope you never test this theory.

Aliyah06... Happy to help.

Drew... Oy.

EMahS... Yes, you can get padded seats here, and yes the tiolets are a different size than in the US.

Joesettler... Now, now... you were once obsessed with such things.

Kakarizz... Another one with TMI. :-)

Lori... Yes, they flow with milk and honey here. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 22, 2006 12:46:14 PM

Sorry David, I had an incomplete evacuation of thought that impacted my comment.

Posted by: Jack | Mar 22, 2006 4:26:08 PM

This post rivals the one where you were left to babysit. I was cracking up here!

Posted by: JustPassingThrough | Mar 22, 2006 5:57:25 PM

Ok, I just read your previous story and the comment you made to Jordan at the Sands, was hysterical. Go David!

It's funny, I hear all about these cardinal rules whenever my husband returns from the bathroom with our small son. Oh the embarrassing stories he tells.

Posted by: jaime | Mar 23, 2006 2:05:56 AM

OMG, I was laughing uncontrollably for about 5 minutes, and I am still in danger of resuming the giggling.

That website is AWFUL.

I have to go read something serious now.

So happy I don't read my blogs at work!

Posted by: PinkDevora | Mar 23, 2006 6:51:31 AM

The new bathroom has powerflushing. It scares me everytime I use it. Too powerful for its own good.

Posted by: psychotoddler | Mar 23, 2006 9:48:26 PM

Too powerful for its own good.

Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.

Posted by: Jack | Mar 23, 2006 11:13:08 PM

Let's see, he tells us they're having houseguests, next post is about toilets and enormously fat people.

... which side of the family are the guests from?

How much do they weigh?


Posted by: Ben-David | Mar 24, 2006 12:33:13 AM

I don't know what is so funny about this issue. Without going into the weight-related aspects, the problem of a comfortable (not necessarily big) sitting arrangement was always a big subject with me.

Of course, it is difficult to find a spouse that will share that specific worry, so I cannot say I was able to resolve the sitting issue to my satisfaction.

But a day will come... Oh, the bliss of it!

Posted by: SnoopyTheGoon | Mar 26, 2006 9:57:01 PM

LOL. awesome. that (your story, that is) had me laughing for a couple minutes. I'm still giggling each time I think of that guy's imprinted hand.

on a slightly more serious note: I can only think of one case where an Israeli toilet didn't give me enough water pressure the first time. Or any other time. It was a public restroom, so I just gave up. So in general, it's a good system for me.

Posted by: rebecca | Mar 28, 2006 9:32:37 PM

This doesn't really have to do with Potty humor, but in a related way, I saw this article recently that similarly addresses the growing need of products for people who are obese. In Las Vegas, there is a specially design ambulance to assist and transport extremely obese patients.


Posted by: jaime | Mar 31, 2006 6:14:50 PM

Yonah, not so. See the pix at http://plumbingmall.com/
I'm planning to buy one for my wife, whose disability has caused her weight to increase to 300 pounds (she really hates it). But I still love the description of it as a "porcelain Barcolounger." That's priceless.

Posted by: Midlife_Crisis | Oct 5, 2006 3:16:31 AM

Sorry, Yonah, I meant Warren.

Posted by: Midlife_Crisis | Oct 5, 2006 3:20:37 AM

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